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In Praise of Performance Conversations

  • 58 per cent of employees are moderately or actively engaged
  • one of the top drivers to improving engagement is managing performance
  • an important ingredient in one’s work is a sense of accomplishment
  • strengthening the manager/employee relationship creates higher manager effectiveness, which in turn, creates greater employee engagement

Getting work done and strengthening the relationship, making it possible to accomplish even more in the future, is strategic.

  • A trusting and straight-talk relationship is the most effective and efficient management tool
  • When assessing an employee's performance, more than one variable needs to be considered

Research shows that performance management can be a strategic tool that:

  • helps an organization maximize its productivity through enabling employees to perform to their potential
  • identifies how personal actions contribute to achieving the organization's strategy

Birona, Farndale and Paauwe, 2011; Buckingham and Goodall, 2015

Performance management is a strategic tool when it includes:

  • links to organizational goals
  • managers who coach
  • frequent dialogues
  • purposeful documentation
  • ongoing learning and development
  • recognition

Mueller-Hanson and Pulakos, 2015;  Hauck, 2014; Fandray, 2001;
Dahling and O'Malley, 2011

The Facts About Performance Appraisals

20 per cent of WRHA employees have received performance appraisals in the last two years.

Limitations of performance appraisals . . .

The traditional approach to performance management can often lead to:

  • The employee viewing his relationship with the manager as adversarial
  • Less trust, lies, and less straight talk.
  • The employee becoming less happy with the job, and his attitude and work suffering.

Employees become disengaged due to:

  • confusion from subjective biased ratings
  • lack of timely and quality feedback and expectations
  • poor relationship with manager due to lack of connection and power imbalance

Stepanovich, 2013; Mueller-Hanson and Pulakos, 2015; Buckingham and Goodall, 2015


  • take an estimated eight hours to complete an average performance appraisal
  • are biased raters despite trying to be objective
  • may not identify issues until the yearly review
  • not able to provide support in a timely manner

Stepanovich, 2013; Mueller-Hanson and Pulakos, 2015; Buckingham and Goodall, 2015

Feedback focused on past performance often:

  • produces defensiveness in the receiver
  • is uncomfortable for the sender
  • reinforces negative self-fulfilling prophecies
  • is denied if seen as inconsistent with one's self-image
  • even high performers may perform worse after this kind of feedback conversation

Goldsmith, 2002; Mueller-Hanson and Pulakos, 2015

An ineffective performance appraisal system has a high cost:

  • disengaged employees cost of $3,400 for every $10,000 of salary (Gallup)
  • turnover costs 1.5 times the departed employee's annual salary and benefits (SHRM)
  • estimated costs of performance appraisal for an organization = 8 hours x number of employees x managers' hourly rate. Example: 8 hours X 28,000 employee X $35= $7,840,000 (Coens and Jenkins, 2002)
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